Over the years, the proliferation of flash game development has resulted in some fantastic titles. Here are 25 of my favorites. From arcade-style games, to puzzles, to adventure games, and everything in between, this (completely non-scientific) list has a little something for everyone.
Bloons is essentially two games in one, depending upon whether the unlimited darts mode is selected or not. If unselected, it is a Poppit style puzzle game, with 50 unlockable levels of increasing difficulty. Throw your darts at the balloon formations, timing mouse clicks to achieve maximum distance. Choose unlimited darts mode, however, and suddenly Bloons becomes more of a virtual stress reliever. Without a restriction on the number of darts available, the game is amazingly easy; accordingly, unlimited darts mode is un-scored. A number of free add-on packs are available to mix things up, and best of all, Bloons includes a fully featured, easy-to-use level editor, available at http://www.myninjakiwi.com/level_editor/game/Bloons .
24) Boxhead: The Zombie Wars
Ever wondered what would happen if Dead Rising took place in a wide open field, and its characters were replaced by blocks? No? Fortunately for gamers everywhere, someone thought fighting hundreds of zombies in a field would be a good idea, and the result is the immensely entertaining Boxhead: The Zombie Wars. Choose classic mode, where it’s you against the undead, no holds barred, or defense, where you have to guard your base from the incoming invasion. Weapons range from the conventional shotguns and pistols, to automated turrets, to the always amusing exploding barrel. Stop the zombies by any means necessary!
For those of you who have played the ZX Spectrum classic JetPac before, this version will be exactly as you remember it; help Jetman assemble his rocket, kill a multitude of colorful aliens, refuel your ship, and blast off. This flash reincarnation is all but identical to its 1983 counterpart, down to the last pixel. For anyone who has yet to play this title, you are in for a treat. There is a certain level of strategy involved in the game, as enemy movement varies by type – be it a blob that moves from side to side, a parasite that moves up and down, or a saucer that follows jetman. Jetpac’s multitude of levels and novel gameplay will keep players entertained for hours.
Navigate your ball to the exit, avoiding mines in the process. At its core, Scriball gives players the impression that it is in fact this simple. To some degree, it is. There is just one small catch: no physical path exists to your goal. Initially, the ball behaves exactly as one would expect it to — that is to bounce when clicked. How does one complete a maze with an object that fundamentally only goes up and down? The player has to draw a path for the ball, in order to make it to the green dot and ultimately to the next level. Think Crayon Physics, but limit the requisite drawing to lines, as opposed to entire objects. Scriball features 45+ levels, 2 additional unlockable ball modes (bouncy and super bouncy), and a built-in, grid-based level editor for those who wish to flex their creative muscles.
21) Ragdoll Cannon
Ragdoll Cannon is a puzzle game of a different sort, and is exactly what the name implies. Shoot a ragdoll through a large cannon to the goal; relatively easy for the initial few levels, but much more challenging once various obstacles come into play. Walls, bricks, and rocks add to the challenge, as well as some very narrow paths to shoot your doll into. As if obstructions weren’t enough, many puzzles are physics-based. For example, don’t be surprised to notice a rock under a platform which must be continuously bumped until the rock is clear of the platform and the player is able to jump through. Ragdoll Cannon may be difficult to finish in one session; thankfully, each level has its own key which can be used to pick up where you left off.
Breakout, Brick Breaker, Arkanoid – regardless of what you call it, everyone has their favorite version of the classic Atari game. My personal favorite is 8bit Rocket’s Star Trek styled Breakout Voyager. Hit the ball with the paddle to clear out the bricks. Breakout Voyager is simple, arcade-style fun. Unlike other variants of Breakout, Voyager lacks a continue function, making it even more difficult.
19) Totem Destroyer
Totem Destroyer plays very much like a digital version of the board game Jenga –with a twist. Destroy the required number of blocks in each level, without breaking the golden idol at the top of the tower. Sound easy? Think again – protecting the idol gets especially tricky when you are faced with non-symmetrical block configurations. To make things even more challenging, there are several different types of blocks to contend with; ranging from indestructible blocks to blocks that bounce. Unlockable achievements (spend 2 hours playing, lose 100 times, spend more than 10 minutes on a single totem, etc) are icing on the cake.
18) Bejeweled 2
Bejeweled 2 takes the original jewel clearing puzzle, and adds a time attack mode. Move gems to form matching sets of 3 or more, filling the bar on the bottom to advance to the next stage. Time attack is more challenging; instead of an unlimited amount of time, you have to fill the meter before it clears, the longer you wait, the harder the level becomes. Fail to fill the meter in time, and it’s game over! Clear a set of 4 gems to make the gems explosive, clear 5 or more and get a hypercube, which, when swapped with the same color, will remove all gems of that same color from the screen.
17) Helicopter Game
Helicopter Game certainly isn’t the most revolutionary game on the block, by any stretch of the imagination. Navigate your ‘copter past obstacles, increasing your score the further you make it. There is no story to speak of, nor is one necessary. That said, it’s almost surprising how addictive Helicopter Game is, proving that simplistic is still fun. How far can you make it without crashing?
Zuma is the type of game that can keep you entertained without even trying. Use your totem to shoot marbles to match the colors rolling in each level to clear them out. Marbles will keep coming until the meter is filled. Timing is crucial here – all marbles must be cleared to progress to the next level, and if any of them fall into skull’s head trap door, the game ends. Combos increase your score, and there are a number of power ups, such as slow down and reverse direction, to help. Zuma is great for a quick puzzle fix, with levels ranging from relatively easy to amazingly difficult.
15) Space Invaders
Paul Neave gives the seminal classic Space Invaders the flash treatment, and the result is an amazingly faithful clone. Not much here in terms of gameplay enhancements, just wave after wave of aliens to mow down at increasing speeds. The game is just as fun as its monochrome counterpart, without the quarters. Hey, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
14) The Legend of Zelda: Seeds of Darkness
The Legend of Zelda: Seeds of Darkness may well be the closest thing to a bona-fide flash version of Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda franchise. Explore the forests of Hyrule, defeat the Octoroks, and eliminate the occasional boss along the way. There are several twists along the way to keep things interesting – the first, and most notable, is the addition of a bomb that follows Link wherever he goes. It is perpetually tethered to your character; go too far towards the edge of the map, and you won’t be able to move until it catches up. Be warned: the bomb is sensitive to your actions, and may explode prematurely if shaken repeatedly. Destroy the 3 seeds of darkness, if you can. I do have one minor complaint – the lack of an in-game save system, but that one minor annoyance aside, The Legend of Zelda: Seeds of Darkness is a great adventure game, and a must for any Zelda fan.
13) The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2
After an evil rabbit steals Fancy Pants Man’s tasty treat, the adventure begins. Loosely inspired by the gameplay of Sonic the Hedgehog, The Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2 is a colorfully animated 2D side-scroller. Pick up the swirls, kill the evil spiders, and navigate a series of twists, turns, and jumps. This is a great pick up and play title with excellent physics and just the right amount of difficulty. (Don’t forget to wall jump – all the cool characters are doing it!) As an added bonus, each level has a golf ball mini game; sink the snail shell into the hole and you’ll earn a new pants color.
12) I Made This. You Play This. We are Enemies
The cardinal rule of I Made This. You Play This. We are Enemies is, don’t try to “get it”. Once you accept that fact, and make it past the initial oddness, there is a great little maze game to be had. The design here is nothing short of inspired – look for levels made from Yahoo, Google, and the RIAA’s web site, among many others. Observe your surroundings, be mindful of traps, and watch out for rogue text. (Beware of the Dalmatians!)
11) Beeku’s Big Adventure
What do you get when you mix an Earthworm Jim-like platformer with the action of Alien Hominid? The answer: Beeku’s Big Adventure, one of the best 2D shooters to come down the pipe in a long time. Blast scores of bugs in lavishly detailed levels and grab powerups such as slow time and hyper burp, to give Beeku the upper hand. There are precious few checkpoints, the bosses are tough, and ammo is in short supply!
The oddly named Ouverture-Facile is hands down, one of the most innovative and engrossing flash games ever, and chances are, you’ve never played it. Billed as a riddle game, it consists of a series of puzzles in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The first three puzzles are relatively straightforward – click an object, find a password, etc – but don’t be fooled; Ouverture-Facile is NOT a game you will finish in a single sitting. The initial puzzles are there to give the player a false sense of accomplishment. Around level 5, when you see nothing but a virtual desktop, it hits you: this game is nothing like you’ve ever played before, and just like that, you’re hooked.
9) GoGo Happy & Smile
Similar in style to Alien Hominid, GoGo Happy & Smile follows the adventures of a gun toting cat and rabbit duo. The streets are overrun with evil mobster bears, and it’s up to Happy and Smile to stop them! GoGo Happy & Smile features great graphics, an excellent soundtrack, and non-stop action. Look for a variety of upgrades – from Uzis to shotguns; you’re going to need as much firepower as you can get. Don’t expect the mob to go lightly on you just because you’re a cute cartoon cat (or rabbit)…
As a Ninja, it is your job to use your superior abilities to grab the each and every gold piece to advance to the next level. Time is of the essence; fail to get all of the gold before the clock gets to zero, or its game over. Run and jump to get the gold pieces – but careful not to jump too high; even ninjas aren’t immortal. Do you have what it takes to survive all 30 chapters before time runs out?
7) Classic Zork Trilogy
For some, Classic Zork Trilogy will be a blast from the past, for others, it will simply be three challenging text-based adventure games. Ported from the 1980s Infocom series, Classic Zork Trilogy doesn’t need fancy things like graphics or sound – it has neither. Instead, CZT is strictly text-based, leaving the visuals up to your own imagination. The granddaddy of all adventure game series, don’t pass it up just because of the lack of graphics. This is interactive digital fiction at its finest.
A collaboration between programmer Tom Fulp and Dan Paladin, Alien Hominid is a classic 2D run-and-gun shooter. In a unique twist, the Alien is the good guy! Mow down the evil pistol packing FBI agents (or use a freak attack to bite them), upgrade your weapon with everything from fire to poison, and defeat huge bosses. A word of warning: you are frequently outnumbered and outgunned; expect to die – a lot. Nobody said beating government agents and getting your ship working would be easy…
There are conventional trivia games, and then there’s You Don’t Know Jack. YDKJ’s mix of irrelevant, “how am I supposed to know that?” trivia, stellar presentation values, and a wise cracking host will leave you grinning ear to ear. At 7 questions per episode, the average game will take a little over 10 minutes to complete — perfect for a quick Jack fix. Looking for a bit more length? Rest assured, there are 100 episodes in total, containing a variety of different question types, ranging from standard (pick the answer from a list of 4 choices) to Dis or Dat (this or that, get it?), and the always entertaining match the word to the clue Jack Attack.
A lovingly crafted hybrid of Megaman and Ghosts & Goblins, featuring none other than G&G’s own Arthur as the main villain. From great gameplay, to distinctly NES feeling levels, to an amazing soundtrack, Megaman Vs. Ghosts & Goblins has everything you could want in a flash game. Incredibly, all of this is so well done it actually feels like it could’ve been something Capcom actually made.
3 ) Dad ‘n Me
Perhaps the guiltiest pleasure on this list, Dad and Me is essentially a less violent sequel to Chainsaw the Children, focusing more on fisticuffs than chainsaws. Gameplay is simple enough: beat down those pesky children, using a variety of different combos, or whatever you happen to find lying around. Don’t feel particularly evil for smacking those kids around though – they’re mean, and will stop at nothing to make your life miserable. After a series of repeated successful punches, you charge up your rage meter; do so, and you are able to do special attacks that inflict a substantial amount of damage.
2) Portal: The Flash Version
Multiple Game of the Year Award winner Portal gets a flash makeover, and the result is 40 addicting, often challenging levels. Despite being a 2D adaptation, it retains much of the style and core gameplay of its older brother. The concept is fundamentally simple: warp yourself from Point A to Point B using two portals. In reality, the game is MUCH more difficult than it sounds. Throw in an assortment of traps, holes, and machines trying to kill you, add a host of physics-based levels, and suddenly an easy game becomes a real brain teaser. Fans of the 3D original will no doubt miss the sadistic humor of GlaDOS, but bearing that one minor complaint, Portal: The Flash Version is certainly a must play.
How is it that a lesser known game from Victoria, Australia made it all the way to the top of this list? Chasm has great graphics, challenging puzzles, and a distinctly tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. That being said, not one of those are reason enough to for Chasm to earn the title of greatest flash game of all time. Rather, it is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. A point-and-click adventure similar to Monkey Island, Chasm follows Joe, a lazy but generally well-meaning duck-billed platypus, tasked to repair Chasmton’s water supply. Being completely hydro-centric, the town needs its water restored for everything from electricity (so its residents can have power to watch TV) to cooling (nobody likes warm beer!). Will Joe save the day? Will he ever overcome his laziness? That, readers, is for you to find out. Chasm is an absolute joy to play, and will consume many, many hours of your life. Saving Chasmton is a perilous job. Here’s hoping you – and Joe – are up to the task.